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Old 01-07-2005, 02:49 PM   #1
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Gran Turismo 4 Import Review

Gran Turismo 4 Import Review (Source - 1UP)

Platform: PS2

Publisher: SCEA Developer: Polyphony Digital

ESRB Rating: Rating Pending Genre: RACING

1UP RANKINGS: 9 / 10 Outstanding


IMPORT REVIEW: The following text is based on the Japanese version of Gran Turismo 4.
Gran Turismo 4 is in an unenviable position. It's been delayed so many times we've lost count. The online racing that was supposed to be the cornerstone of Sony's online strategy has been cut. Yet expectations remain sky high. Polyphony Digital and in particular the combination of perfectionist and auto enthusiast in its leader Kazunori Yamauchi have built a pedigree for the franchise that helps fans keep the faith while waiting for its arrival. It's still over a month away elsewhere (including North America), but that day arrived 12/28/04 in Japan. We could't wait another day to learn the fate of this legend.

It begins with a fittingly epic intro movie. Cinematics might not have any bearing on the gameplay, but a great one, like this, has the ability to sweep the player into the game world. All the pent up anticipation gets gathered up with the images and music building together to a climactic crescendo. Finally it appears, the main menu screen to Gran Turismo 4. Almost as if they had been waiting for us (and not just the opposite) there sit the familiar offerings of arcade mode and GT World.

Arcade does exactly as it should in wasting no time getting to the action. This is the place where right from the beginning cars with blinding speed are available. Some quick tune options allow a little pre-race custom tweaking to setup your car, but the emphasis here is on the driving, not the mods. While not every venue and car is initially unlocked, representatives from each make for plenty to get started with. Even at the start it will take a minute to decide which car to take out on for city course, real circuit, original course or dirt & snow racing.

Out on the track a few things are immediately apparent. First and foremost is the sense of speed. A knock against previous versions, it is now one of the game's greatest strengths. Every sense gets into the act. Yes, the landscape whizzing by and tightening of the controls play a big part in that, but what really sells it is something always overlooked before: the sound of the air rushing past the car. It's amazing how convincing it makes the experience, and in Dolby Pro Logic II Surround the blast coming from the center channel and then dispersing over the satellites brings it to life. The sofa and TV melt away, and you are in the driver's seat, barreling down the road. At 350 kph in a full-on race car it's down right scary.

Tied directly to that uncanny feeling of truly being the driver is how naturally each car moves. Gran Turismo has always been known for its realistic handling model, and it's only gotten better. Every shift of weight in the suspension can be felt. Never before have those movements been as accurately captured and relayed to the player. It also extends beyond the car communicating every nuance of the road's surface. No, they're not all smooth anymore. Think you know how it feels to race Nurburgring from other games? Wait until your car starts dancing on the bumps in the pavement at 300 kph.

Then the realization that this is Gran Turismo comes crashing home. Despite great discussion of artificial intelligence for the drivers things are the same as they ever were. Computer controlled cars drive their lines regardless of where you may be. Wind up in that line and you will be ruthlessly knocked away like an 8-ball that's just been struck by the cue. And like those prior races, the field is again limited to 6 racers total on the track. Where other racers have upped the ante to full racing fields it remains just you and 5 opponents.

It's hard not to be disappointed, but a nice upgrade in the graphics department does help soothe the sting. While the cars look a little nicer than last time out, they were already approaching photo-realism. The real difference can be seen in the environments -- the details in everything around the tracks are especially impressive. Forget the old blocky backgrounds. Foliage looks live, and even the spectators, while still stiff, look more like people than cardboard standees. Of course, the signature video replays return, with the optional music video stylized mode more fluid than ever. A casual observer will be convinced they are watching real racing for more than just a first glance.

For videogaming car fans, GT World mode translates that into nirvana. Nothing can compare to the thrill of seeing yourself, driving your own car as hard as possible on the best courses around the globe. After that experience makes it real, moving up to the dream cars is all the more satisfying. The grind to get them has changed very little. From humble beginnings with a few credits to spend at used car dealerships your career will see time in every car imaginable across all corners of the globe.

Or in this case all corners of the map that fittingly looks like the foldout for an amusement park. The attractions are the various places where you'll be spend your time. Each nationality with cars in the game has its own area. Inside are the manufacturers. There you will find their available models, factory tuning shop and in specialty races featuring their cars. Much of your time will be spent in the arenas. These are where most of the familiar race series from earlier versions are like Clubman Cup, FF Challenge and the rest. With over 650 cars in the game even with overlap from multiple versions of the same model the selection is staggering. And thanks to that there is always the hope of what will be unlocked with next race series completed.

You will need a license to race though. The tests return also much as they were before with scores of bronze, silver and gold. While bronzes will pass, cars are awarded for completing a license with each of the ranks. Veterans know some of the most prized cars come from all golds. Unfortunately, only a very small number of players will have the combination of skill, desire and patience to achieve them. Even silvers are a significant challenge with their time requirements seemingly just beyond an experienced driver's "good" run. Each of a, b, IA, IB and S levels now features 16 events, but they are not appreciably more difficult than they have been. That is except for a single "coffee break" test added to each. These consist of diabolic cone tests. The good news is a bronze is awarded for simply doing them. Silver or gold is a whole other matter.

Although online multiplayer did not make this version, there are still solid options for taking on human opponents. Along with the tried-and-true split-screen option is the ability to link up via LAN. Steps are already being taken by the gaming community to support play over the Net using a system similar the one used for the original Halo.

And that's not the end of the package either. At the same time the removal of online play was announced, a new mode, B Spec, was revealed. It puts the actual driving in the computer's hands and has you acting as the racing team captain. After setting up the car, a simple set of controls allow coaching of the driver during the race. Using the directional pad you tell him how aggressively to drive on a scale of 1 to 5. For instance, approaching a tough corner it might be best back off some, whereas on an easier section you can push harder to overtake. It's a great showcase for the graphical power of the game. How much appeal it holds, however, depends a great deal on your enthusiasm for watching a race.

The icing on the cake is photo mode, though. Any car in your garage can be taken to one of 15 locations around the world, like Times Square or the edge of the Grand Canyon and professionally posed for a high resolution picture. These shots can then be saved to your memory card, or better than that, printed out. Those USB ports on the front of your PS2 will finally see something other than the SOCOM headset plugged into them. Pictures in high resolution jpeg format can be saved to a simple USB thumb drive, or for the truly dedicated, directly printed on a compatible USB printer.

If all this sounds overwhelming, that's because, frankly, it is. There is no arguing the appeal of online racing, but neither does its absence here prevent getting completely lost in the Gran Turismo world. Much as the second version created a benchmark for aspiring racing games, this forth entry defines the standard by which any motoring life simulation will be judged. The only words that appear during that breathtaking opening video are "The drive of your life". We agree.



Picture Perfect
Our Honda Dual Note rests comfortably on display at Marunouchi in Tokyo after a victorious tour in the 4wd circuit races. No, really, that's not a real car or a real location. It's all generated by the PS2 in a few seconds once you set up the composition. Taking these breathtaking shots couldn't be easier. The arrangement screen has highlighted areas for where both the car and camera can be placed. Frame the shot, tweak the positioning, and add a little turn-in to the wheels, and viola. Through the USB ports pictures can be saved as high-res jpegs to a thumb drive or directly printed with a compatible printer.


Gran Turismo 4
Release Date: 02/14/2005

# of Players: 2
Multiplayer: Split Screen
Audio: Pro Logic
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Old 01-08-2005, 02:08 PM   #2
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man i can not wait untill this game comes out. I hope they do not get the idea to delay it again. I have a filling that it is going to be much better then A-spec.
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Old 01-08-2005, 04:05 PM   #3
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Does this sequel now offer damage on cars? I haven?t seen anything on it yet.
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Old 01-08-2005, 04:09 PM   #4
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Nope. No Online play either.
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Old 01-08-2005, 04:31 PM   #5
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Yeah I heard about the no online play. This game is lacking what all the other racers been having for a while now.
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Old 01-08-2005, 10:24 PM   #6
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I don't think GT4 will deserve a 10/10 due to the fact that there's no online play....
I guess the graphics didn't leave enough memory so there's gonna be any online play.
Still I'm getting this game.
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Old 01-09-2005, 12:09 AM   #7
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Sony said they will release an expansion disc to add online support for GT4.
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Old 01-11-2005, 02:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinful Sam
Yeah I heard about the no online play. This game is lacking what all the other racers been having for a while now.
i heard that the reason there was not car damage was because the car companies would not let them do it. Sony wanted to, but some car companies refused to give them the ok to do so. I do not know how much truth there is to this, but this is what i heard.
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